Troops hunt tribesmen in attacks vs mining firmPhilippine Daily Inquirer
KIBLAWAN, Davao del Sur—Soldiers and policemen on Wednesday launched a manhunt for armed members of a tribal group who are trying to prevent one of the world’s largest mining companies from setting foot on what tribal leaders said is land that is part of their ancestral domain.
The team conducting the manhunt, according to Senior Supt. Ronaldo Llanera, would get the armed members of the B’laan tribe dead or alive.
Llanera, Davao del Sur provincial police chief, would not say how many men are involved in the hunt for groups believed led by the Capion brothers—Kitara, Dagil and Batas—who are members of the B’laan tribe.
A court has issued a warrant for the arrest of the Capion brothers, who are waging an armed struggle against the entry of Sagittarius Mines Inc. (SMI) into B’laan communities in the provinces of South Cotabato, North Cotabato and Sultan Kudarat.
“We aim to serve the warrants against them and we intend to get them dead or alive,” said Llanera.
Aside from opposing the entry of SMI, the Capion brothers are also avenging the alleged loss of B’laan lands to non-natives, who had come to resettle in the mountains of this town.
Bishop Dinualdo Gutierrez, of the diocese of Marbel, earlier urged authorities to address the root of the problem instead of dismissing the B’laans as bandits.
Gutierrez said the problem was being complicated by reports of abuses committed against the B’laans, some allegedly by soldiers.
The Capion brothers maintain that the forests in the boundaries of the four provinces belong to the B’laan people.
The B’laans will defend their territories at all cost, said Rita Dialang, a sister of the Capions.
Dialang said her brothers were standing up to aggression and are making a “sacrifice in defense of the tribe’s ancestral land.”
“Forest, to us, is like a vast market. We get everything we need out there. It is our hunting ground, our drugstore, our farmland and our sanctuary. Destroy the forest and you also destroy our lives,” she said. Orlando Dinoy, Inquirer Mindanao